I have a new body part. (That’s what you call an ankle-foot orthotic, right?)

Acquiring it took time (of which I have near-endless amounts) and patience (of which I have almost none). Since the orthotic is custom made, the orthopedist had to come to take a plaster mould of my foot and leg and carefully examine their deformities. There was then a waiting period because these things don’t just make themselves, people. When it finally arrived, I almost cried with joy. Almost. OK, OK, tears were shed, but few enough that I could pass them off as a symptom of an allergy to hospital disinfectant.

The AFO is necessary because of the foot drop I developed while in critical care this past summer. Foot drop—for which there is, no doubt, a precise medical term that my brain can’t or won’t hold on to—is more or less exactly what it sounds like. My right foot curls down at the ankle, and I’m unable to uncurl it. It also stubbornly inverts to the left. It’s astounding, really, how little it’s willing to budge and how weird it is to have a foot that fails to respond to my demands. I give it an F, in equal parts for “foot” and for “fail.”

My purple beauty/failure.

This is where the AFO works its magic. Turns out that when someone or something ignores you, you can force it into a clunky device it hates with every single toe of its being and you love because it makes it possible for you to stand and walk without a physiotherapist crouched next to you holding your personal rebel on the floor to keep it stable. And also because you made the daring choice of ordering it in purple, your favourite colour, rather than in black, the more practical option.

Though I haven’t had it long, the AFO has already made an enormous difference in terms of my functionality. My foot still resists being crammed into my new accessory, but I’ve been reassured that it will eventually adjust—that what it now considers to be evil and somewhat painful contortions, it will eventually accept without complaint. Until that day, I’ll focus on appreciating the increasing possibilities that the AFO unlocks for me. Every time I look at it, I’ll be happy that I went with my heart and opted for purple.


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